This is week two of a weekly Bucks blog by Alexander Juneau. Today I am going to tackle the Buck’s lopsided roster construction and where Hammond & Zanik go from here.
Hammond and Co. have not exactly constructed an ideal roster, the talent is very uneven with the forwards and centers being a spot of wealth while the guard spot suffers. The Bucks this season have 42 million committed to the center spot, 36 million to forwards, and about 14 million to guards. (Note: I have Middleton as a forward, but he could be reasonably classified as guard, I consider him 50/50 but prefer his defense against forwards) Regardless of classifications we see that the Bucks have committed a lot of money to centers without really having a concrete answer at the position. Typically when a team has that level of money invested they will have a guy who is an all-star and then a great backup or a guy who can play multiple positions.
Henson played around a little bit with a jumper in the preseason, but I highly doubt we see many Henson/Monroe or Henson/Plumlee lineups. Kidd has avoided these poor mobility, poor spacing lineups with two centers as well as any coach could have. These are 3 guys who all could be under contract for the next two seasons and cannot really coexist. This creates quite the obstacle for Kidd to coach around the Bucks to maneuver, this season needs to find a result to this.
Monroe can opt-out this summer and that would be ideal for the Bucks, because it would open up nearly 10m in cap space they could use to sign another rotation type guard. I think the best case scenario would involve trading one of the other two centers for an expiring deal if the Bucks could swing that. That could free up nearly 22m in space, that said if Monroe opts in there is virtually no cap space this summer. They should use this season to find out who fits their current roster best. With that said here is a brief summary of each player’s strengths and weaknesses.
Henson: Henson is a very good rim protector, he was second in the league last year in field goal percentage allowed at the rim behind Rudy Gobert. He is a good finisher at the rim, but struggles through contact and cannot make free throws consistently. He sets weak screens and in general is fairly lacksadaisical on the court.
Plumlee: I believe Plumlee to be the best screener of the trio, and by far the most willing. Monroe has not been willing to screen and Henson tends to slip screens instead of actually making good contact. Plumlee is also the best finisher at the rim, as he holds a slight career lead there over the other two. He seems to understand defensive rotations a bit better than Moose, but is far from elite on that end.
Monroe: Moose is a big departure stylistically from the other two centers, he likes to hang out in the post and is actually capable of being a first or second option in an offensive set on a regular basis. He can score down low, he is comfortable with his inefficient midrange jumper, but he has struggled to make defensive rotations throughout his career. He definitely is the slowest of the three and the most vertically challenged. He is also the best career rebounder, on both ends of the floor.
This season needs to find answers for these questions. The Bucks need to know as they enter this offseason what they need from the center spot and whether or not the answer to the question is on the roster. The Bucks will have a chance to experiment with a couple of different play styles from the pivot this season, but only time for each option will tell us what actually works.
- Giannis was back to dominating on opening night with a robust 31/9/5 stat line, but we know he can score, rebound, and assist. The questions in his game revolve around whether or not he can shoot efficiently, I’d like to see him shoot free throws efficiently (77-82%) and see if we can get 32-35% from 3 on one 3PM a game.
- Jabari looked fairly absent on opening night, I’m not sure he had many matchup advantages though MKG, Batum, and Marvin Williams are all guys I would want to guard Jabari if I were facing him. Regardless he needs to be more involved his usage rate has hovered around 20% if he is going to be a star we need to see that go to 25% sooner rather than later, especially if Middleton is out.
- This Hornets team was top ten in offense and defense last year they were one of the NBA’s best kept secrets. It will be very telling how the Bucks come out Saturday against the Nets who are expected to be one of the leagues bottom feeders. If the Bucks can dominate the Nets from tip to final buzzer, Bucks fans can be a little more hopeful about the season. If they struggle like they have in the past with the Nets, well it might be a long year.
- Malcolm Brogdon was one of the big stories from opening night, if he is a rotation guy going forward the Bucks snagged great value in the second round. He moved the ball well and defended good enough, but to really have value he will need to be a passable shooter from outside the arc. He does not have to be the starter or the answer to all Milwaukee’s problems, just getting a rotation guard that late in the draft would be an incredible get for a cash strapped Bucks squad.